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New Zealand records first COVID case outside of quarantine in months

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By Euronews
Medical staff take a COVID-19 test from a visitor to a drive through community based assessment centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.
Medical staff take a COVID-19 test from a visitor to a drive through community based assessment centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.   -   Copyright  Mark Baker/AP Photo

New Zealand has reported its first case of COVID-19 outside of its managed isolation facilities since November.

The 56-year-old woman who tested positive had recently returned from Europe and spent two weeks in government quarantine upon her arrival in New Zealand, officials said.

She tested negative for the virus twice before being released from where she spent quarantine at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland.

The woman then developed symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19.

"Steps to detect or to do the genome sequencing and a second PCR test are under way," said New Zealand's COVID-19 response minister Chris Hipkins.

He added that it was too early to speculate the "origin or strain" of the infection.

The woman had four close contacts that will be isolated as New Zealand officials continue their contact tracing. Any close contacts of their contacts will also have to isolate and be tested.

The government released a list of nearly 30 "locations of interest" that included cafes and shops where the woman likely travelled.

"While risk from these locations is most often very low, casual contacts who attended one of the locations during the relevant timeframes are asked to stay at home, get a test and wait until a negative result comes back," the New Zealand Ministry of Health said in a statement.

New Zealand, an island nation with a population of five million, has recorded a total of 2,283 coronavirus cases and 25 deaths. Around 71% of all cases in New Zealand have been imported or import-related.

After taking strict measures early on in the pandemic, the country stopped community transmission of the virus by May 2020.

But an outbreak in August prompted officials to impose a lockdown in Auckland before once again the country stopped spread of the virus.

Additional sources • AP